The first blessing in the morning before Shema is known as Yotzer Or. It begins:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֽשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא אֶת־הַכֹּל: Blessed are You, Adonoy our God, King of the Universe, Former of light, Creator of darkness, Maker of peace, Creator of all things.

The words are based on Isaiah. 45:7. Here is the verse:

יוֹצֵ֥ר אוֹר֙ וּבוֹרֵ֣א חֹ֔שֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁל֖וֹם וּב֣וֹרֵא רָ֑ע אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה עֹשֶׂ֥ה כׇל־אֵֽלֶּה׃ {פ} I form light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil— I GOD do all these things.

But notice the change - the word "evil" from Isaiah is replaced by "everything" in the prayer. The Talmud in Brachot explains the euphemism:

אֶלָּא כְּתִיב ״רַע״ וְקָרֵינַן ״הַכֹּל״ לִישָּׁנָא מְעַלְּיָא, ״ ! Rather, it is written evil and we euphemistically recite the blessing all things to avoid mention of evil.

There is one problem.

Per the Ramchal the raison d'etre of creation is for man to comprehend God's Oneness. In order to fully comprehend that Oneness we must understand that God created evil:

אבל יחודו, אדרבא, זה מתגלה ומתברר לנו בירור גמור. ונמשך לנו מזה שלא די שהוא מתברר לנו, אלא שחייבים אנחנו להשיב אל לבנו הידיעה הזאת, לתקוע אותה בלבבנו בישוב גמור בלי שום פקפוק כלל.

But His singularity, is just the opposite, it is revealed and clarified focus in complete clarity. And it emerges for us from this that it is not enough that it be clear to us, but that we are obligated to return this knowledge to our hearts, to embed it in our hearts completely settled without any doubt ...

ואמנם המאמין ביחוד ומבין ענינו, צריך שיאמין שהקב"ה הוא אחד יחיד ומיוחד, שאין לו מונע ומעכב כלל ועיקר בשום פנים ובשום צד, אלא הוא לבדו מושל בכל. לא מבעיא שאין רשות נגדו ח"ו, אלא הוא עצמו בורא הטוב והרע, כענין הכתוב (ישעיה מה, ז), "יוצר אור ובורא חושך עושה שלום ובורא רע, אני ה' עושה כל אלה";

And indeed the believer in singularity and understander of its subject, need to believe that the Holy One blessed is he is one solitary and unique, who has no one who prevents or withholds him at all in any aspect or side, rather he alone rules over all. Needless to say there is no domain that opposes him G-d forbid, rather he himself created good and negative forces, as it says (Isaiah 45:7), "The maker of light and creator of darkness, maker of peace and creator of evil, I am HaShem them maker of all these."

The words that were substituted in the blessing for "maker of peace and Creator of evil" - "maker of peace and Creator of everything" - do the job in a pinch, but, arguably, dampen the power of "Hear, Israel ... the Lord is One." Isaiah did not replace "evil" with "everything" because he understood that embracing the specific idea that God created Evil is the sine qua non in understanding ה׳ אחד. I find it strange that the verse in Navi in essentially the same context uses the word "evil," but somehow it is not appropriate for a prayer book! In the balance, why did Chazal feel that avoiding the mention "evil" in a blessing is more important than articulating the Shema with the unequivocal understanding that evil (called out specifically by name, and not made part of a general "everything") is subsumed by the One God?

  • 2
    I don't know if this is related to the full answer, but something I've spotted: The idea that Hashem created evil isn't really explained in Torah nigle, it is primarily a teaching of nistar, and it is presented in the Zohar as part of the secrets of Torah. So, perhaps the answer is that the nigle halacha of speaking in a refined way took precedence over a point of sod, but that doesn't mean we aren't meant to learn it as part of studying Hashem's Oneness (as per Ramchal, who was a student of the Zohar)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 31, 2023 at 15:31
  • @RabbiKaii It doesn't get more nigleh than a passuk in Tanach. There are many pesukim in the Torah that say Hashem brings punishment for evil.
    – N.T.
    Jan 1 at 20:52


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